Russian rescue workers have begun pumping fuel from a domestic product tanker that went aground five days ago off Sakhalin Island.

The Victoria (built 1993) got stuck off the south-western coast of the island in the Russian Far East on 10 November and has been battered by bad weather since.

Clarksons lists the ship as 2,800 dwt, while Equasis has it as 1,100 dwt.

Russia’s Marine Rescue Service began the lightering operation on Tuesday, according to the state-run TaSS news agency.

The Russian-flagged ship is reported to be carrying 760 tonnes of fuel.

It was said to have suffered engine failure, after which the captain issued a distress alert.

Emergency crews had failed to tow the vessel because of big waves and high winds.

There were also concerns over oil leakage, according to news website Kedr.

A helicopter was unable to reach the vessel, but no injuries were reported among the crew.

The ship is about 400 metres from the shore.

Vessel ‘damaged’

“Around lunchtime [on Tuesday], [specialists] began transferring fuel from the damaged vessel to onshore fuel tanks,” Tass cited an unnamed emergency services officer as saying.

The officer added that fuel removal is expected to be finished on Thursday.

Salvors then plan to refloat the ship.

Russian media said local residents reported a strong smell of diesel, but there has been no official confirmation of this.

“The chances of saving [the tanker] are very low. The probability of an oil spill is very high,” local ecologist Dmitriy Lisitsyn wrote on Facebook.

Shipping databases list the owner as either Troyka-Vostok Co or Mercury Shipping, both of Vladivostok.

There are no port state control detentions on its record.

The tanker has insurance cover through Hydor.